India has the right to take measures to protect specific sectors like agriculture as it is not a tariff king, according to international trade experts in the country, who have rejected the recent US allegation that India’s import duties are one of the highest. Trade Promotion Council of India Chairman Mohit Singla said the US assertion is factually incorrect.

Experts said several developed countries and regions, including Japan, South Korea, the European Union, and the United States maintain extremely high tariffs, primarily on agriculture products, according to a report. Singla said that countries like Japan levy 736 per cent duty on certain products, while Korea imposes 807 per cent on some goods.

US President Donald Trump has repeatedly claimed that India is a ‘tariff king’ and imposes ‘tremendously high’ import duties on US items. Biswajit Dhar, Professor of economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, said that the US allegations are completely unfounded. Sharing similar views, Professor RM Joshi from the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade in New Delhi said the United States, being a developed nation, should rationalise its duty structure.

India’s average World Trade Organisation (WTO)-bound tariff is 48.5 per cent while average applied tariff is 13.4 per cent and the wide gap between the two clearly shows that India is not a tariff king, else it would have pushed the applied tariff very close to the bound rates, Federation of Indian Exports Organisation Director General Ajay Sahai said.

While bound tariffs or duties refer to the ceiling, the applied tariff is the duty which is currently in place. The United States recently decided to withdraw incentives being provided to Indian exporters under the generalized system of preference (GSP) programme.